BEIJING - A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that the South China Sea issue should be resolved by directly related sovereign countries through friendly consultation and negotiation.
"China's position concerning the South China Sea issue remains clear and consistent," spokesman Hong Lei told a routine press conference, expressing his hope that countries not party to the South China Sea dispute truly respect the efforts of those who are.
Hong's remarks came in reply to a reporter's question on US Senator Jim Webb's call on Monday for Washington to condemn China on the issue.
"China hopes the involved countries will do more to contribute to the the peace and stability in the region," the spokesman added.
"China wants to resolve the issue peacefully through friendly consultation and negotiation," Hong said, pledging that China will not resort to force to resolve the issue, which is a consensus written into the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Hong also said that recent tensions over the region were caused by some countries that took unilateral actions to impair China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and released groundless and irresponsible remarks in an attempt to expand and complicate the issue.
"This is where the problem lies," Hong said.
He reiterated that China is committed to implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in a bid to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea region.